What is our primary use case?
Our primary use case is to improve our profitability across our field organization. It's performing fantastically. We have over 140 branch locations, over 1000 users, and it's scaling great. Performance is great. The feedback from our field users is fantastic in terms of form and function, so it's meeting all of our expectations.
Our goal is to roll out self-service, because with the advent of our tool, being able to drive actionable intelligence is just the next natural thing for us; to give the users ability to perform analytics on their own.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable feature is the ability to actually embed actions, comments, being able to leverage Transaction Services to embed the tool into a business process.
We get so much more value out of this tool because it's part of a business process. It's not a normal BI or analytics tool that has nice gauges and "dancing bears." It's actually a tool that's being used on a monthly basis, even a daily basis by our operational users, because it's embedded within an existing business process.
Looking ahead at 2018, I think the MicroStrategy capability that we'll use most is Transaction Services. I think we'll continue to build upon Transaction Services, driving actionable intelligence to the business, aligning Transaction Services to those business processes that are most critical, to help drive profitability, to help drive quality improvements across the organization.
What needs improvement?
Maybe a feature where migrations are easier. When you migrate from certain environments, it could probably be a little cleaner. Sometimes it seems to be somewhat clunky when you migrate from one environment, say a development to a test or production environment.
Also, having some use cases from MicroStrategy that talk more about self-service, what self-service is and the applicability of self-service to different types of use cases and different types of personas in the businesses.
For how long have I used the solution?
Three to five years.
How are customer service and technical support?
We've submitted technical support tickets but it's never been anything where it was like "the boat was sinking" and we had to call technical support. Regarding the tickets, I would give the response to them a lukewarm rating.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We were using Excel. We use Hyperion for financial reporting but we got the point where we had to put on our "big boy pants" and get a real solution.
How was the initial setup?
I don't think it was complex at all. I think the time to actually stand the solution up was relatively short. I think the complexity didn't come into the actual set up, it came into the actual configuration and development of solutions. The set up was easy. You just install the thing. It's the development that's the tricky part.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
There were other vendors on the shortlist. I think initially, for us, it was some of the capabilities, the enterprise capabilities. And believe it or not, it was actually Transaction Services, that was really the part of the tool that made it very compelling for us, because it gave the opportunity to drive action.
What other advice do I have?
I prefer having analytics capabilities in many points, rather just in a single platform like MicroStrategy. I would hate to say that we have just this one "basket." I think there are many different use cases, and I think you have to address the many different use cases that the business brings to you. I think MicroStrategy is very complementary to what we need from an enterprise standpoint, but I believe that you also want to be armed with other tools that may fit other use cases.
We don't plan on investing in the MicroStrategy Mobile at this time. I think when a tangible use case becomes relevant for our business, we probably would consider it, but not at this point.
When selecting a vendor I would say our most important criteria are
- having a tangible real use case that can articulate into my industry
- credibility in the market place
- having a bench of talented resources.
I rate it a seven out of 10 because I don't think there's any silver bullet BI solution out there. The reason I would not rate it a 10 is, I think it's great for certain things but maybe not great for other things. I wouldn't put my eggs in one basket and say MicroStrategy is the savior for world hunger, because it's not.
In terms of advice to a colleague looking into a similar solution, I would say clearly understand your use case and make sure you understand the culture of the organization before you dive into this tool, or any other tool. You have to understand, what is the use case? What is the business problem, what are you going to solve?
What are the underlying support teams and resources that you need to actually manage, maintain, and support this particular solution? Because Excel, in some instances may be okay. In other situations it may not be okay. I would beg to say that there are probably a lot of organizations out there that are still running 80% of what they do on Excel, and basic reporting is fine. Some of these things that we talk about like predictive models, that's great stuff. But I'd say 70% of organizations need basic reporting. So focus on the basics. If you focus on the basics, then that should drive your decision.